Every time I glance at the TV or social media, I get a reminder that Season 3 of The Walking Dead premieres this Sunday. This has become an October tradition since its inception three years ago. ‘Tis the season for the moaners, slow walkers and brain-eaters that much of America has grown to love.
Zombies have always been pretty big in the pop-culture sphere, but they have recently taken a rise in popularity because of The Walking Dead television show and graphic novel series, among other things. People love resurrected corpses, apparently. I mean, did you see that gnarly, bloated zombie in the water well from Season 2? Those were some high-quality guts, in my opinion.
I am among this demographic, although I try to flip my lid over everything zombie. There are so many other branches of horror that I appreciate that I don’t want to spend too much time on this one subset of ghouls.
Zombie-everything is on the market: key chains, T-shirts, you name it. I even received a book of zombie haikus as a gift from a friend. My brother has started collecting strange weapons like aluminum bats and a machete, you know, just in case.
So, why do people love zombies? I believe there are several reasons:
- Zombies are hard to kill, and that ups the ante. There are very specific rules to killing zombies. You need a clean shot to the head or to remove the head completely to off these suckers. That’s a lot of work, especially when they’re swarming you (which they do often — have brains, will travel . . . in packs).
- A zombie could be your (former) friend or loved one. This is a sneaky tactic in horror. For example, in Pet Sematary, a deceased child comes back to life and returns to his parents. OBVIOUSLY he’s a vessel for a demon, but what can the parents do? I don’t think I’m the kind of person who could behead my zombie-mom. Sorry, I just really like her. I’m doomed.
- The genre has been around for a very long time. Zombies are near and dear to any horror enthusiast because they are a familiar and usually successful horror villain. They’re classic; from Night of the Living Dead to 28 Days Later to Shaun of the Dead, they’ve worked for many different films.
- They’re versatile. Yes, they are overplayed, but if a writer gets creative, there can be a number of different spins on a zombie. Some are slow-walking and some are incredibly fast. Some can spread their zombification through a bite, and others became that way as a result of a strange government plan or disease. Some are easy to kill and some are hard to kill. Red fish, blue fish, zombies are fun.
- They’re everywhere in video games. Any avid gamer probably has several games where zombies are involved. They’re unavoidable on any console.
So, I hope that you’re not too sick of zombies yet. I know that they’re kind of everywhere and the hype about them is a little extreme. Feel free to carry on if it isn’t your thing. But, if the “zombie apocalypse” DOES happen, remember who those friends are who have a machete at their house.